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Indiatimes Economy: Bhagavad Gita concepts

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<arttitle>To achieve, risk being unpopular</arttitle>


18 Jan 2009, 2346 hrs IST, K Vijayaraghavan,


It would, doubtless, be desirable for an iron hand within, to go with a velvet glove without. An evolved person would always retain for himself a toughness within, while through his endearing and enduring cheer and smile, he would also often endeavour to disarm even those who may have come to scorn.

Nevertheless, in one’s unrelenting pursuit of the chosen vision, the aspirant would, in his eagerness to win friends and influence people, also divine where to draw the line, ensuring that his basic approach and values are not compromised, not ever becoming excessively pleasing or accommodative.


In the same manner as Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark or Somerset Maugham’s Charles Strickland, he

would, while willing to spare time for the worthy, certainly not hobnob with all and sundry.

A simple analysis of great lives would reveal how most were characterised by virtues of self-respect and positive self-esteem, which may often have appeared to be arrogance or conceit.


Indeed, being laws unto themselves, they cared little for conventional humility or morality, thus becoming unpopular and winning often more enemies than friends. In fact, excessive humility or that born of a sense of uncertainty and weakness within, as noted by Bertrand Russell, suppresses self-respect. Producing, more often than not, “hypocrisy and falsification of instinct”, this artificial approach hinders accomplishment.


Thus a true seeker of excellence would, rather risk being unpopular or being branded as selfish or unreasonable. This tongue-in-check observation of Bernard Shaw is highly relevant in this regard: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”


This essence of right living, thus, as noted by Ayn Rand, is, “living up to your highest vision of yourself, no matter what the circumstances you might encounter.” This art of true “enlightened selfishness” is also the practical working of the Bhagavad Gita concepts of atmanyeva atmana thustah (2,55) and atmaratih (3, 17), meaning respectively, “fulfilled in one’s self by one’s own self” and “delighting in oneself”.


This also is the process that generates the supreme reward of antahsukah, antararamah, antarjyoti (5, 24) — inner joy, inner peace and inner light. This also is the Biblical concept of “the kingdom of God”, which according to the Book (Luke: 17, 21), is, verily, within us all!

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